Churchill-Smith, James – June 1917
More enemy shelling during early morning about 2 a.m. Nice fine day. Up looking at front line and communication trenches during morning & afternoon.
…Wrote dear Mum, Kate & Dad. Fairly heavy bombardment by our Guns on Messines Ridge & Messines in afternoon. Understand big explosion in Messines during afternoon.
…. Charlie Moule received note from Max Gore in Germany – glad he’s safe…Fritz had a go at one of our balloons at night but was driven off by our “Archies” [anti-aircraft artillery guns]. One of our small ammunition dumps blown up at night. Small dumps blown up during day by Boche, but there are so many that no wonder he sends them up.
…Ammunition train blown up by the Boche in Bailleul Station. Our Artillery had a practice barrage at 3 p.m. – another barrage at 8 p.m.
Heavy bombardment by our artillery all night. Inspected model of Messines ridge in morning… Sent note to Tom to send Mona £9 for photos.
Slept fairly well although no blankets. Tremendous explosion at 3.10 a.m. – ground shook terribly. This was the signal for the advance to take Messines. Barrage immediately opend up. Battn. left Neuve Eglise at 8.40 a.m. & arrived in old Support line at about 11.30 a.m. Second Barrage for hop over of 49th, 52nd & others commenced at 3.10 p.m. All objectives gained & many prisoners taken. Advanced about 4000 yds in all. Heavy artillery firing all day & night.
Men called for fatigue [Labour that does not require armament] again at 2.30 a.m. & again at 8.00 a.m. Heavy artillery fire all day – 4 S.O.S. alarms. Exceptionally heavy counter-attack by Boche at 8.45 p.m. – very well replied to by our artillery. Wild rumours around about a retirement by us, but I believe all is well.
Find Boche counter-attack was driven off & all is well. Men on fatigue during morning… Left dug-outs in rear at 8 p.m. & lined up on other side of Messines ridge at 10.30 p.m. Jumped off without artillery support at 11.30 p.m. & worked towards objective. Fritz flares very thick & fair amount of M. G. [machine gun] & rifle fire. Wire not cut too well, but found an opening & filed through it… Find Fritz is still in the gully so evidently the rest of the Battn did not reach the objective. Can quite understand it as wire was thick & uncut & Fritz had some fairly strong posts.
… A few stragglers came into my trench during day. …A good deal of sniping during day with good results. 50th Bttn & 52nd Battn. attacked gap to link up with me & join with 45th on right at 10.30 p.m.…Lt O’ Donoghue killed, & Lieut Noblet & Rogers, McGregor, Capt Wilton wounded. Seager slight bomb wound in face. My Coy bombers & Lewis Gunners attacked a German Machine Gun at 10.30 p.m. in a concrete house close by my line, but after 1 ½ hrs bombardment failed to remove it owing to not being able to get inside house. Succeeded in keeping Machine Gun quiet during the Battn. attack so that helped.
L/Cpl Jensen awarded V.C. for work done at Noreuil April 2nd – first V.C. of Battn. & Brigade. …Plenty of enemy aeroplanes over during morning but were kept off by our Lewis Gun & rifle fire – we enjoyed firing at them. …Find Fritz has cleared out of whole of gully & also from his M. G. post in front of us – we now occupy it. Found a German 4.2 gun in position in front of us, so it is ours – first gun captured by the Battn & ‘D’ Coy has the honor. All the boys souvenir hunting all day & have bayonets, scabbards, revolvers, helmets &c. Our cavalry patrolling on road on right about 1500 yds away.
…Cricket match in afternoon – Officers 50th v. 51st. Match unfinished really, but 51st made 7 more runs than we did. Rather enjoyed the game – made 8 & 4.
…Hear that poor Dick Wilton has lost an eye & also his left forefinger – bad luck for him – feel very sorry, – a real nice chap.
Received nice photo of dear Mum from Mrs Bond. One of our balloons brought down by enemy aeroplane this morning – one German plane brought down.
…Attended demonstration of a company in attack at 2nd Army Musketry School, near St Omer, in morning with other O’s C, Tom English, Jim Loudon & others from Bgde…Received letter from Mona.